Afrin operation should not expand to city center, says CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu
İpek Özbey – ANKARA
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) supports “Operation Olive Branch” as it does not want any terrorist groups nesting on Turkey’s borders, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said, but added that Turkish forces should not enter the center of Afrin.
Speaking in an interview with daily Hürriyet, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party already deemed the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as terrorist organizations.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın previously accused some members of the CHP of indirectly supporting the YPG and PYD.“The ruling party hosted PYD leader Salih Muslim in Ankara despite a Supreme Court ruling that designated it as a terrorist organization, and I brought it up to the agenda. That’s why they are accusing the CHP of backing the group,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Last week, Kılıçdaroğlu announced that the CHP filed a criminal complaint against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the grounds that it engaged with the PYD despite a previous court ruling.
Kılıçdaroğlu also underlined that they support “Operation Olive Branch,” which was launched by Turkey on Jan. 20 in the Afrin district of Syria against the YPG, but added that the government should refrain from pushing Turkish troops into Afrin’s city center to avoid military casualties.
“As we did for Operation Euphrates Shield, we supported the military operation in Afrin, too, as we do not want any terrorist groups nesting on our borders. Indeed, we need to secure our borders,” he said.
“However, it is something else to enter the city center of Afrin. Why would you enter a city center with a population of 500,000 people? How can you distinguish terrorists from others? There can be a bloodbath if we enter the city center,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks that “it is necessary to go to the east of Manbij and Euphrates to destroy all terror nests.”
“Our own security must be the top priority. Turkey does not have the responsibility to completely destroy terrorism in Syria. Our soldiers’ lives are not worthless. If he [Erdoğan] is willing to bring a complete end to terrorism in Syria, he can train Syrians in Turkey and send them to fight there. Does it make sense for our soldiers to protect Syrian soil while Syrian teens sit back here?” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu also slammed the “hegemonic powers of the West” for sending weapons to the region.
"Arming the Middle East will lead to more bloodshed,” the CHP leader stressed.
“I especially want to address sincere Muslims. The blood being shed is the blood of Muslims, who are killing other Muslims. Those who give them the weapons are Western powers. Why don’t you think about the sufferings in Syria and Iraq,” he added.